Valentine’s Day field trip idea: a girl and a boy go to a movie

See that previous post about how the new year held all sorts of promise for rehabilitating this wheezing excuse for a blog? Clearly, words don’t mean much in 2014.

In fact, until this very morning, the header image remained a vintage sepia photo of two Auburn men holding a golden eagle by its wings. This was no accident; a cool picture deserves to stay in public view for more than a month, especially in a region where football season never ends. But I have to tell you, it was time. It was time for football season to end, it was time for recruiting season to end, it was (and is) time to Move. On. In these parts (and in this household), I think I may have just engaged in some level of blasphemy. Regardless, that particular picture has been removed, and a creepy Valentine image has taken its place.

Despite the rapid approach of Valentine’s Day, the real focus today is the weather and how, frankly, we need to push past this prolonged state of wait-and-see and upended schedules that February has dumped on us. This isn’t healthy. It can’t be.

Recognizing that the residents of this house were in real danger of re-enacting scenes from The Shining, we loaded up the four-wheel-drive–it was raining, after all–Tuesday night to take in a movie. Agreeing on a movie is akin to hosting a NATO summit. All the strategies and alliances, reviews and debates. It’s exhausting, really. (If NATO summits can be won and lost, I certainly lost the last round and was forced to suffer through American Hustle. I was not about to lose again.)

We are all about peace-keeping measures, so I banged the gavel on the kitchen counter and announced that this decision was on me. Like Patton said, “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” And that’s probably a better mantra here than “In case of doubt, attack.”

The most effective strategy, we have learned, is this: “Kids, you go that way; we’re going over here.” And it works. (Apparently a person cannot see Frozen frequently enough.) You know what else works? George Clooney and Matt Damon recovering lost art in WWII. No movie review here–just a ringing endorsement for 120 minutes of relatively clean cinema based on a little-known mission throughout parts of war-torn Europe. And that’s coming from a girl.

I make no apologies for that last statement; when it comes to my personal taste in cinema and books, I tend to walk the gender line. (Such a confession may get me in a heap of trouble with English Department types who wince at the idea of traditional gender-focused theory. But hey, I like what I like.) So with some hesitation, I offer a few thoughts on why Monuments Men blurs the lines between “war movie” and “girl movie”:

  • The war is the backdrop to the story.
  • Brief battle scenes. They keep ’em short.
  • Subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) music of the Hogan’s Heroes variety.
  • Hints of fast-paced M*A*S*H-esque dialogue.
  • Bill Murray is a grandfather.
  • Product placement like Ritz and Saltine.
  • And this: “At the Battle of the Bulge, one of the bloodiest battles in WWII, another decisive victory for the allies, we are treated to a warm shower and a touching note from home for Bill Murray […] it’s about people and relationships.” OK, who wrote this? A woman? No, my husband, who has seen his share (and then some) of war movies sent me this. The man has learned a lot about a woman’s movie-viewing habits in lo, these 23+ years.

I’ve tried to come up with some clever analogy between V Day 1945 and Valentine’s Day 2014 to end this post, but it’s not working. I leave that to you. Maybe it lies in the victory of finding a movie we both agreed on and ultimately did not regret. Maybe it lies on the peace-keeping mission of sending kids in the other direction for about two hours. Maybe it’s the revised budget that will be required to offset our expenditures allocated to the purchase of four movie tickets and a large popcorn and drink. Or the success of our covert operations to get enough free refills to satisfy four people. Again, I leave that to you.

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